A Pack of Pictures
(c) Linda Gravill 2002

Learning to read tarot cards can be an exciting though sometimes frustrating adventure into what most of the world views as a mysterious and supernatural craft.The best advice I can give, having learned this the hard way, is to choose a deck of the Rider Waite fashion or the Rider Waite itself to start with and a good book.

Most decks come with their own book which is good but you need a bit more information than what the artist says each card means.

Here`s two good ones...

"Tarot Plain and Simple" by Anthony Louis


"Learning the Tarot" by Joan Bunning

I think that one can learn from any deck but the reason behind this suggestion is that it will give you the best jump off point for other decks and studies later on. It`s easy to be tempted with all the wonderful decks on the market these days and not stick to learning any single one properly. Stick with one! It will pay off. There`s no totally "perfect" deck. We`ll go on looking for that one forever, so wait a bit for now and find one that attracts you and has art that tells a story and stay with it through thick and thin until it has become like an old friend.

Before you look up the meanings, write down what you see each card as meaning. What is the person or people doing in the picture ?...what is the overall mood or feel ?...what type of scenery is there, lush and green, barren or cool?....then check the book afterwards. Often the book won`t match up with what you see. Go with what you see or feel. Don`t let the book rule you. You`ll find that after you`ve learned all the basics this will be a great aid in using your intuition alongside what you`ve learned about numbers 1 to 10 and each suit element`s meaning.

For example in my Nigel Jackson deck the 10 of Cups doesn`t quite mean what I`m used to it meaning....joy and happiness.

The card shows a couple holding hands and dancing yet the background is cool..the grass and buildings look like they`re made from ice and there`s no colour behind them.

Being the 10 it seems to say that this couple has gone as far as they can or should go in the way they`re showing their feelings for each other "below the surface" and need to move on or begin fresh again together, bring back some pizazz and brightness. Their relationship maybe has become stale and cooled off and they are only acting like everything is okay.

I once read that one should first learn all the basics and then forget what you`ve learned. I never could understand this until I took the time to learn properly.

You don`t really forget the basics, you`ve just placed them into your subconscious and your intuition kicks in adding much more to what the cards mean to you, while at the same time bringing out those well learned, useful parts. Make sense?

Start out with one to four card spreads and forget the Celtic Cross or other complicated ones until you get a good handle on your cards. Big spreads will only drain you and confuse you at first and may put you off the joy of learning to read altogether.

Another interesting exercise to try is what a friend calls "binding" the cards to you. A magical sounding bit of lore but a good exercise!

You lay all the cards out and one by one turn them over. With each card turned over, you recall some memory or dream or wish pictured on the card that applies to you. This can be another good "trigger" for future use as well as uncovering forgotten memories."

Happy Taroting!

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This page was created on November 3, 2002.